Category: Slice of Life

The Violinist

As the great violinist Dean Gelato aged, his technique and performance on the violin improved. However, his ability to find the correct venue for his performance grew steadily worse.   He tried to cope by leaving earlier and earlier. This meant that the assistants who came to drive him straight to the doors kept missing him.

It didn’t help that no one would tell him if he arrived at the wrong place.   When he arrived at what looked like a suitably busy venue, they would welcome him in and show him into a nice room so that he could tune his violin and mentally prepare.

He’d come out onstage to perform an opening solo, only to discover he was guest performing for a rock band or a baseball game or a track meet or a political debate or the academy awards.

His assistants would somehow manage to track him down at this point and drag him away to the waiting audience that had bought tickets to hear him perform.   As he usually was only a little late, the audience would laugh and applaud and no real harm was done. It even became a running joke. It was just very embarrassing.

Dean swallowed his pride and admitted he had a problem. He started waiting for his assistants. However, by this point part of his fame was tied to wondering where he’d turn up next. People liked when he got lost. It had become an international joke at a time when the world needed something harmless to laugh at.

So, the assistants would take him to the wrong place on purpose.   Occasionally this was prearranged, but mostly they’d drive around looking for somewhere that looked rather busy.   Dean would come out onstage, ready to perform and realize he was in the wrong place again.

And he’d play anyway. It’s what he loved best, after all. He played like an angel. The world may laugh at his sense of direction, but they were moved to tears when he performed. His popularity soared.

Dean had always avoided interviews. It was difficult to know just what to say. However, sometimes it was impossible to avoid an interview.   One of these times was when his youngest nephew became a journalist and was hired by a major newspaper.

Dean’s sister called to tell him the news. “And Dean,” she added, “he wants an interview for Christmas. He’ll call you next week.”

“It’s September,” Dean said.

“So you’ll get some of your Christmas shopping done early. Tell him a deep dark secret so he can get a bonus or something.” She said.

“I don’t have any deep dark secrets, not really,” he said. “But I’ll give him an interview. Isn’t that enough?”

“Well, I guess I won’t disown you anyways,” she said.

A week later, his nephew called. “Hi Uncle Dean! It’s Aiden,” he said.

“Hi Aiden, I hear you want to interview me,” Dean said.

“Yeah. So, are you ready?” Aiden asked.

“Go, ahead, Aiden,” Dean said. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

Aiden cleared his throat. “Mr. Gelato, it’s good to talk to you. My name is Aiden Short. Would you mind if I recorded this interview?”

“No, that’s fine,” Dean said.

“Mr. Gelato, the world wants to know. Do you arrive at the wrong venue as a publicity stunt? Do you believe your playing isn’t enough to speak for itself?”

Dean sighed. This was worse than usual. Obviously Aiden takes after his mean, mean mother. “Sadly, I’m not that clever. Originally, I just kept getting lost. Now I have assistants to take me to the right place, but I still end up in the wrong place. I think they think it’s funny.”

“So you believe it is some sort of plot. Do you have any other conspiracy theories you’d like to share?” Aiden said in a low, sinister voice.

“Listen, Aiden. I’m going to pause this interview,” Dean said.

“You can’t do that, Mr. Gelato,” Aiden said.

“I can. I want you to take this to your editor and see if this is really the kind of interview they want to run.   Then you can call me back,” Dean said.

Aiden called back an hour later. “Uncle Dean,” he said. “What’s your favorite color? Do you have a cat?” The interview went better after that.

Fortunately, Aiden wrote an article that was popular with both readers and his employers. He received a lecture for the first interview and a bonus for the second. “Uncle Dean, guess what I want for my birthday,” he said.

Dean laughed. His life had become some sort of farce. At least he still could play his violin. In fact, it was time to practice and find that oasis of calm again.

“Sorry, Aiden, I can’t talk right now,” he said. “I have a concert to prepare for.”


Forgetful Thaddeus

Thaddeus was standing on his front steps looking through his key ring. No house key. That’s right, he’d taken it off the ring the other day to lend it to his sister, and he hadn’t gotten around to putting it back on. He’d been carrying it in his back pocket. He checked his pocket. Nope.

Time to retrace his steps. Luckily, this wasn’t the first time he’d forgotten something. He was really good at keeping a list of where he’d been all day.   He always checked for his planner whenever he left and then wrote where he was and what he did.

So, before coming home, he’d gone running around the track at the park.   Time to head back. At the park, he found his water bottle on the bench by the track. His keys weren’t there.   He looked around carefully to be sure.   All right, what was before that?

The library was a short walk through the park. He found his jacket by the computers, his favorite pen at the table he’d sat at, and his library card at the front desk. His keys were still missing.

He walked the aisles of the grocery store and found his shopping list sitting next to the potatoes. He even asked at the customer service desk, but unfortunately, his keys were not there.   He pulled out his planner and checked the list again.

He’d left a half-used book of stamps at the desk of the post office.   “I thought you might come back for these,” The postal worker said with a smile. “You’re lucky you came now, my shift is almost over.”

Thaddeus thanked her and asked if she’d seen a house key anywhere. She hadn’t.   Well, at least he had his stamps.   He tucked them into his jacket pocket and pulled out his planner. It looked like it was time to go to the bank again.

He’d left a granola bar at the bank among the magazines in the waiting area. He unwrapped it and bit into it as he left. Yuck, it was peanut butter. He always forgot how much he didn’t like the peanut butter granola bars. He ate it anyway and checked his planner.

Ah, yes. He’d gone to visit his elderly neighbor. She was lonely and liked his weekly visits. This would probably take a while. He knocked on the door. A short lady with snow-white hair opened the door just wide enough to peek out.   “Eloise!” Thaddeus said. “It’s lovely to see you again! Did I leave my key here?”

Eloise blinked up at him. “Harold? What was that about a monkey?”

“No, it’s Thaddeus,” he said. She always got his name wrong. It didn’t help that she couldn’t hear well. “I’m looking for my house key.”

“Oh, come in, then Andrew. There’s no need to be shy. I should have a first aid kit somewhere, maybe in the bathroom? Why don’t you go check while I boil some water.”   Eloise locked the door behind him and bustled off. Thaddeus sat on a chair and waited.

She returned a while later with a mug.   “It’s chamomile. For the stress, you know,” she said and handed it to him.   “Now show me your pinky. Which hand was it?”

Thaddeus pulled out his shopping list and pen and wrote out: “Have you seen my house key?”

Eloise took her reading glasses off the table and put them on. She leaned forward.   “House key? Why didn’t you say so, Jonathan? I don’t have it, but you left your umbrella here.” She pointed to his little black umbrella, propped up against the chair he was sitting in.

“Thank you, Eloise,” he said. “I’ll see you next week.”

“I’m sure you will, George. We’re all getting old,” she said.

He drank his chamomile tea, thanked her and left.   He checked his list. Yard work at home. He went home and looked all over the yard. His gloves were in the wheelbarrow and his baseball cap was hanging on the end of a tree branch. He still hadn’t found his key.

He checked his list. He’d been at home before this. There was nowhere else to look. His system had failed him. Would he have to call a locksmith? Break a window? Live on his front steps forever?

He tried the knob, feeling silly, because of course the door wouldn’t magically unlock itself. The knob turned and the door opened. He’d forgotten to lock it. He carried all his things inside and put them away, including the bag of groceries he’d left on the steps earlier. He found his key on the windowsill next to his bed. It had been here the whole time.

Well, his method had mostly worked after all.   Logic and organization win again.   They were always saving him –it’s why he’d become an accountant. Speaking of which, it was time to balance his accounts. Now, where had he left his calculator?


“The turkey still isn’t done,” Dad said.

“Oh dear,” Mom said. “Maybe we can play a game. We’ll go around the table and each say something we’re grateful for.”

“No repeats,” Dad said. “It will make it a challenge.” The children groaned.

“I’m thankful for my family,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for food,” Alice said.

“bunnies,” Beth said.

“Turkey,” Robbie said.

“That’s a repeat! I said food,” Alice said.

Robbie frowned. “That’s not fair,” he said.

“Is too,” Alice said.

“Can you think of something else, Robbie?” Mom asked.

“I’m thankful for everything,” Robbie said.   “The game is over.” Ben cheered. Beth hit her plate with her fork and it sounded like clapping. Mom sighed.

“Let’s just say you can’t repeat the same words,” Dad said.

“Fine,” Robbie said. “I’m grateful for worms.”

“I’m thankful the turkey’s not done so that we can play this fun game,” Mom said. Dad snorted. “No, really,” Mom said. It wasn’t entirely convincing.

“I’m grateful for the gospel,” Dad said.

“I’m thankful for the house,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for the car,” Alice said.

“ponies,” Beth said.

“horses,” Robbie said. Ben laughed.

“That’s the same thing,” Alice said.

“Different word,” Robbie said. Alice huffed.

“Moving on,” Mom said. “I’m thankful to be a citizen of this fine country.”            “hmmmmm. I’m grateful I have a job,” Dad said.

“Me too,” Mom said.

“I’m thankful for soccer,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for books,” Alice said.

“toast,” Beth said.

“spiders,” Robbie said.

“You’re not really thankful for spiders,” Alice said.   “Dad, I think we should say why we’re thankful for something. Robbie isn’t really thankful for spiders. He’s cheating.”

“Are you really thankful for spiders, Robbie?” Dad said.

“Yes,” Robbie said.

“Well, then,” Dad said, “I think that’s fine.”   Robbie grinned.

Alice huffed. “It’s not fair,” she said.

“I’m thankful the turkey’s almost done,” Mom said. She pinched the bridge of her nose. Her glasses shifted around strangely.

“I’m grateful for my happy children,” Dad said. “Especially when they’re getting along.”

“I’m thankful for French toast,” Ben said.

“He said the same word as Beth!” Robbie said.

“It meant something different!” Alice said.

“It was still the same word,” Robbie said.

“It’s fine,” Ben said. “I’m grateful for pancakes, too.”

“I’m thankful for my very, very annoying younger brother,” Alice said.

“Alice,” Mom said.

“But I am,” Alice said. “Very grateful.”

“thumbs,” Beth said.

“Good one, Beth,” Dad said. “Thumbs are really useful.”

“Can you check the turkey again dear?” Mom said.

“dead batteries,” Robbie said.

“No one is thankful for dead batteries,” Alice said.

“You are if it means something stops working at just the right time,” Robbie said.

“That’s never happened to you!” Alice said.

“I’m grateful for the possibility,” Robbie said.

“Turkey’s done!” Dad said.

“I’m so thankful,” Mom said.

“Aren’t we all,” Dad said.


The Inheritance

Larry’s Great-uncle Mortimer finally died.   Larry had kind of thought he’d live forever. But he hadn’t. However, he had amassed a strange assortment of things in his later years and left them to his many, many relatives.

Larry’s mother received a cuckoo clock that played a lullaby every hour. “I’d forgotten that mother used to sing that to me,” she said, trying to mop up her tears with a crumpled paper napkin she’d fished out of the bottom of her purse. “How thoughtful!”

Larry received a locked box with a note. It said that he had to prove that he’d opened the box completely on his own in order to keep what was inside. His grandfather would hold onto the box in the meantime. “How am I supposed to do that?”   He asked his mother. “It’s locked. Should I buy some sort of blowtorch?” He tried to pick up the box to shake it, but it was too heavy.

“Of course not. You’d damage what’s inside,” his mom said. “You know Larry, you’ve been at loose ends since you graduated.” She blew her nose with the paper napkin.   “Maybe you could train to be a locksmith?”

“I have a job, mom.” Larry rolled his eyes. He really didn’t want to go back to school. Ever.

“I think you’d be able to adjust your work schedule around your classes,” his mom said.

“I don’t want to go back to school.” Larry scowled.

“It’s not really school. I doubt there will be many papers or multiple-choice tests.   There must be something good inside the box. Uncle Mortimer had a knack of giving just the right gift.”


Mom smiled. “He’s the one who sent you Blue Bear.”

Jake looked up. “I loved Blue Bear! He’s the best. Blue Bear was from great-uncle Mortimer?”

“He sent me those weird fish earrings as a graduation present,” Mom said. “I wore them to a dance years later…”

“And Dad asked you about them and that’s how you met,” Larry said. It was a story he’d heard far too many times. And the earrings were from Great-uncle Mortimer? Who knew?

“Alright. I really want to know what’s in the box now. What do I have to do?” Larry said.

“We’ll figure it out,” his mom said.

Larry started his training and then later survived an apprenticeship, and he found that both were far more interesting than he’d expected. Sometimes he went weeks without even thinking about the box. And then sometimes he’d daydream about a box full of diamonds or keys to a sports car or a dozen stuffed blue bears.

It took two years, but Larry showed up at his grandfather’s house one evening and presented his locksmith license with a flourish.   He then pulled out his kit and quickly unlocked the box. “Well done, Larry!” Grandfather said.

Inside was a deed to a storefront in a nearby town.   A note said that he could rent it out or start his own business. “What will you do?” Grandfather asked.

“I think I’ll start a locksmith shop,” Larry said. “They don’t have one there and the town is growing. I actually like being a locksmith. It’s helping people and solving puzzles. I guess Great-Uncle Mortimer knew what he was doing. Again.”